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The Somerton Man Case. The body of a man found on an Australian beach close to a major Atomic Testing ground, he was probably poisoned, a copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and an unbroken Code page found and associated to him. Set against a Cold War background in 1948, was this man a spy? We think so and this blog focuses on the evidence that was left behind and in some cases missed, the Code page, Dry Cleaning numbers, A Poem and a small, torn piece of paper bearing the words TAMAM SHUD.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Somerton Man: Micro Writen Code Examples


Read more on this story and more in the Adelaide Advertiser

Following up on the recent posts on Prosigns and Micro written codes, here are 3 examples of letters containing micro code. At this time there is no proof that the Somerton Man wrote the various coded messages only that he had a torn piece of paper which matched the same type of paper found in the book and the same phrase, TAMAM SHUD on the torn piece, was missing from that book.

The letters concerned are A and Q from the fourth line, and S from the fifth and final line. Work on other letters is well advanced and they will be released as soon as they reach a reasonably viewable state.

For the record, the process used to reveal these hidden letters and numbers is colour replacement. What that means we are able to remove lighter shades of grey from the larger letters leaving the darker coloured numbers and letters in view.

If you are able to make any headway on interpreting what you see here we would be delighted to hear your views.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Somerton Man: Sofia to London, The Bulgarian Connection

An overnight flight from Sofia to London and from there onto Australia?

Flight route Sofia to London
TABSO Airline Pamphlet. Li2 Aircraft, 1950


LZ 1556 Location beneath AR
 The image to the left was found just beneath the AR sequence at the end of the final line on the code page. It has a height of approximately .4 mm so it is quite small.

It is quite a definite string of letters and numbers and so began the research into just what that would have come from.

LZ 1556 Close up
To researchers of early 20th Century history, would recognise the LZ almost immediately, these were the two letters used to indicate the Zeppelin rigid airship. However the numbers that followed the LZ prefix only went as high as 21 so I believe our LZ 1556 would not refer to this marvel, thankfully I might add.

Somerton Man: Bulgarian Connection?

Nonetheless it was a lead of sorts so the aircraft theme was pursued and it was found that LZ was a call sign for aircraft registered in Bulgaria. However the 1556 was proving to be a challenge. Fortunately a Bulgarian researcher and investigatve journalist, Olga Dimitrova, was able to help. The answer was that LZ1556 was in fact an IATA flight number and it related to flights between Sofia and London. This information was really welcome even though it still left a few questions. To learn more it was necessary to go back into the history of Bulgarian Air travel and what a history it turned out to be. You are not about to be burdened with the full details so what follows is a summary of the essential points.

JU52 At Manchester Ringway Airport 1947, BEA Flight.
As of 29th June 1947 when Bulgarian Air Lines was formed, flights within Bulgaria were made on ex German JU 52 Tri Motor aircraft. In late 1947, The Russian Army/Airforce, liked what they saw of the fledgling industry and bought into the Airline which was renamed TABSO (Transportno-aviacionno balgaro-savetsko obedinenie) at that time the airline was a Soviet/Bulgarian owned venture. TABSO then purchased Lusinov Li 2 aircraft,  a Russian version of the American DC3 (Dakota). The reason for this move was whilst the JU 52 was a reliable workhorse for passengers and transport, having a range of just 620 miles or so, it was not suitable for the lucrative, longer distance routes such as to London which was a distance of 1550 miles. The Li2 had a range of 1500 miles meaning that a single stopover for refuelling would make the trip.
Lusinov L1 2. This image was taken at Moscow Airport
Of note here is that the long range version of the L1 2 was equipped to carry just 14 passengers, the short range version carried 28.

Summary & Some Questions

In regards to the Somerton Man case what we have on the code page is an IATA issued flight number which could only have been issued after late 1947, for a flight from Sofia to London on an aircraft that could carry just 14 pasengers. Could this have been a flight taken by the Somerton Man? There can be no certainty about that at this stage but is is a possibility and one we would not have known about without first finding this example of micro writing. If this was him, a search of passenger arrivals from Sofia during period from late 47 to October 1948, could give us a name and possibly a photograph. It is believed that there were only 3 or 4 such services a week and with only 14 passengers at a time the task whilst a reasonable size would not be a daunting one. If the flight was not taken by the Somerton Man, then who was on that aircraft whose Flight number was found on the 'code' page?

1. Whilst aircraft registered to Bulgaria had the LZ prefix, ticketing via IATA only commenced following the commencement of  TABSO operations in late 1947, this included the allocation of flight numbers.
2. Airlines can and do alter flight numbers and swap them across routes, it is possible that LZ 1556 in 1948 terms could have been to a different location although TABSO seemed to be consistent with their numbering.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Somerton Man: Photo Realistic Image Progress

A little while ago I embarked on a project to create a photorealistic image of the Somerton Man based upon all known images that existed of him. This included the standard full face, profile and images of the plaster bust plus another image that was taken immediately before he was to be buried and after he had been embalmed.

The image above represents the progress made to date, there are still a few tweaks needed, the colour of the hair is actually quite challenging and it needs to be a little darker as per the Police description. A little more skin tone and we will be there.

Thanks to Professor Derek Abbot and others for their input in the process, please note the mole.

Any comments would be very welcome.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Somerton Man: Eureka Part 3: Code Analysis 1st Cut, the letter C holds the key?

The letter 'C' holds the key! Further evidence that the 'Code Page' is based on the US Military Radio Operators Manual.. (Updated 20/6/14)
(View Manual here)

In the two previous Eureka posts, we discussed the 'unlocking' of the code page thanks to the discovery of a US Military Radio Operators Manual. The manual revealed the existence of 'Prosigns' (particular letters and groups of letters of the alphabet) used in Morse Code by the US Military that reduce the number of morse code key events, the dots and dashes, in a message.

Here's the thing about Morse Code that seemingly has escaped so many Academics, students, serious and amateur code crackers and more..

When you are preparing a message for transmission using Morse Code, you don't write down the dots and dashes, you write down the letters, numbers and/or and Prosigns. Similarly, if you receiving a Morse Code message once again you don't write down the dots and dashes, you write down what the dots and dashes represent in terms of letters, numbers and/or Prosigns. It's the skill of the radio operator that turns the letters and numbers into morse code and of course turns the morse code into letters and numbers.

Before reading further I would ask that you bear in mind that whilst we have a number of larger letters on each line of the 'code' page, each of these letters in my view is a carrier for additional information in the form of much smaller micro written letters and numbers.

At the head of this post is an image of the letter C and also the last two letters in the last line, 'AR' with a flourish just beneath them.

As already discussed the last line of the code begins with a letter 'V' which is a Prosign for 'From and what follows is the call sign of the sender'. The 'AR' prosign means 'this is my last message to you no response is expected or required' All by itself that makes a reasonably compelling case for our position that the Code Page is based on the Radio Operators manual.

The exciting news is that the last letter in line 4 of the code page underlines and corroberates the evidence thus far posted on this subject. The letter 'C' is the Prosign for 'Corrected Version'.

Think back now to line 2, the line that has often been referred to as the 'crossed out' line.  That line also commenced with the same style or 'plain' letter 'M' as does line 4.

The crossed out line 2 was corrected by line 4, a statement made by many but it is only now we have the confirmation by virtue of the last letter of line 4. 'C' Prosign for 'Corrected version'

The significance of the 5th and bottom line is that it gives us further corroberation to the claim that the Code Page is indeed based on the US Military Radio Operators Manual dated 1945.

Code Page Implications
What does that mean to the code page? Well, looking at the page we found that there were indeed Prosigns in the lines of letters found there.

I must make it clear at this stage that I am not a cipher expert, my skills if any relate to the ability to find where codes may be hidden. What follows is my first step analysis of the code page making use of the new found Prosigns and as you will see, there are some intriguing aspects of the analysis that I hope others with greater skills than I, will take up.

In the earlier posts we recognised that each line with the exception of the last line used one of two forms of the letter M which was in fact the first letter on each of the first 4 lines. For our purposes we called the letter M on line 1 and Line 3 style 1. Then on lines 2 and 4 we called the letter M found there style 2.

My view is that these first letters M identify each line of subsequent letters as either from a particular source, to a particular recipient and/or identifies the line as a particular kind of message.

Line 1. First Cut

The letters on the code page first line are as you have already seen:

M R G O A B A B D.

Below is the first cut of an analysis of what this line contains, bear in mind that this is a work in progress and I fully expect to review and update this cut:

M defines the source, recipient or type of message
R  means 'Routine' which that no urgency is attached to this part of the message
G O A B represent 4 letters from a code of some form (see below)
AB is the Prosign meaning 'All Before'
D is the Prosign meaning 'Deferred'

The above structure, with the exception of the first letter 'M', came from the US War Department Radio Operators Manual.

For our purpose the first cut, our first line now looks like:
M    R  GOAB    AB    D

The letters GOAB would be the coded letters for line 1 with the letter 'R' by itself indicating that what follows is 'Routine' according to our list of 'Prosigns'. The letter 'D' at the end of the line means that there is no urgency to this message, it can wait for the next shift.

Stay tuned for more but please bear in mind we have more work to do and the current findings may be adjusted as we move ahead.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Somerton Man: EUREKA Part 2 - Code Page Unlocked

Morse Code Pro Signs Identified

In a very recent post we discussed the possibility that the 'Code' page letters were in fact morse code Pro signs as found in a US Military Radio Operators manual. Further we suggested that each larger 'letter' acted as a carrier for the smaller, micro written, letters and numbers found in every 'letter' on the page. Above is an image of the full code page marked up showing the first letters in each line and the last letters with, where found, an interpretation of the Prosign meaning.

Last Letters AB or AR?
Before we get into the discussion on this image, we need first to clarify the nature of the last two 'letters' in the last line on the page, are they AB or are they AR?

In the image below, I have brought together for comparison each of the 4 letters B found on the page:

If you look closely, you'll see that the four 'B's above are fairly similar in shape with reasonably rounded upper and lower parts and importantly with the base of each being 'closed',
In contrast the base of the letter beneath is left open and the curves are quite pronounced.

Now compare these four with the image on the left, it's the last letter on the last line. It comprises of a letter and a 'flourish' beneath that leads off down and under the preceding letter, the letter A.  My view is that the shape of this last letter on the last line is noticeably different to the other 4 examples of the letter B. I have circled where I think the 'flourish' actually starts and raise the question is that a flourish or is it meant to be an underscore? That being the case then the last 2 letters on the last line are in fact AR and NOT AB.
View the Radio Operators Manual here. This manual, FM 24-6, is an official US War Department Publications dated 1945.
Why is that important? Because when we look to our Radio Operators manual and the Pro Sign meaning of AR, it means 'This is the end of my message to you and no reply is required or expected' It is a matter of conjecture as to whether there is anything to be inferred by way of similarity between this meaning and the meaning of the two words 'TAMAM SHUD'

The Main Code Page Image
Returning to the main image at the top of the page and taking this theory further, we can apply the Pro Sign meanings to each of the final letters on each of the lines with the exception of line 2. That could be because the letter I has no Prosign meaning or it could be that it does have one that we have yet to discover.

The other 4 lines do contain final letters that have Prosign meanings:

Line 1, D = Deferred and AB meaning All before
Line 3, P = Priority and T meaning Transmit
Line 4, C = Correct Version
Line 5, V meaning from with call sign to follow, the prosign 'T' meaning Transmit, appears 4 times on the last line, AR = This is the end of my message to you and no reply is reqired or expected,

Other Prosigns from the manual can be applied to the letters as shown in the earlier post on this topic and they can be used to show how the micro written content of each of the larger letters should be treated by the recipient. For example, the letter T indicates that the content of this letter should be transmitted to another recipient. The letter P means that the micro content is a Priority item and so on. I hope you take the time to examine the Prosigns and then apply them to the 'letters' in each line.

You will also notice that I have highlighted each of the first letters in each line on the page. I wanted to show how there is a pattern of use as in the 2 styles of the letter M. A stylised version and then a more plain version which appear alternatively. Lastly the letter V which has a Prosign meaning of 'From'.

I interpret the first 4 introduction letters as being the identifier of the source or type of message, the stylised M lines are from or to one source and the plain M lines are from or to another source.

The last line commencing with the letter V has the meaning of 'From', it is difficult to be precise here but I suggest that the whole page could be about an intercepted set of coded messages that have been copied and converted to micro writing which are then discussed in the last line by the actual sender.

The last line then Starts with a V or 'FROM' and ends with AR which means:

'This is the end of my message to you and no reply is required or expected

Why use Micro writing? Simply because it would be the most effective way of reducing a fairly lengthy message including Prosigns, Call signs and message content into a very small space for ease of concealment and eventual distribution to others.

Next steps are to work through the micro writing, which is the real code, and then get on to the huge task of deciphering the more than 1000 characters that exist.

Your thoughts and ideas are very welcome. I would like to thank those who have emailed me with their input, I very much appreciate their support and recognition that it is difficult to present this new information and facts that others have spent so long on attempting to solve. I would like to think that we all have the same goal in mind, to find out who SM really was, what he was doing and why he died, then we should send him home wherever that may be.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Somerton Man: Intelligence Backdrop

Australian Prime Minister, Ben Chifley,
Launches Holden Car, Adelaide November 29th.1948.

Recently I came across a most interesting document, it was a summary of steps taken by the Australian Government to stem the flow of secret information from various Government Departments. See below.

Whilst there are many interesting facts within the document what struck me was the entry dated December 23rd. 1948. It details a directive from Ben Chifley the then Prime Minister of Australia sent to all Departments, involved with Defence activities, for action.

This was not the norm. In fact in this record, it is the only case where the Prime Minister took such an action. What was it that caused him to do that in December 1948? You would have to think that he had been briefed either by Australian, British or US based Intelligence services. A search of Australian newspapers from mid November to mid December shows nothing out of the ordinary related to Defencematters apart that is from the visit of high ranking UK Military officers to South Australia on November 17th, Ben Chifley launching a new car at Holdens on November 29th and  the discovery of the body of a man on Somerton Beach on December 1st. 1948 and to whom a book, with what appeared to be code written in to it, was linked.

Here's the link where you can find the document:

And here's a copy:

369 Brief on Security by Department of


Report[April 1949][1],

Report[April 1949][1],
MEASURES TAKEN TO STRENGTHEN SECURITY 16. The following is a summary of the more important recommendations of, or action taken by the Defence Department over a number of years to strengthen security in Australia with special reference to the security of Defence information and activities:-
[matter omitted][2]
(b) Decision to create new National Security Organization On 2nd March, 1949, the Prime Minister announced the formation of a new Security Service under the direction of Mr. Justice Reed.[3] Its functions will be (i) Investigation of subversive organizations.
(ii) Counter espionage.
(iii) Preventative security, which includes measures to protect secrets and the security checking of personnel who handle secrets.
(c) Long Range Weapons Board – Security Organization Executive control of the Long Range Weapons Project in Australia is vested in the Long Range Weapons Board (Australia), administered by the Department of Supply and Development. A special security organization was set up in 1947 to cover the project. The general direction is vested in a Security Committee of which the three Service Directors of Intelligence and the Director of the Commonwealth Investigation Branch are members. Certain Service personnel, Peace Officers, and members of the Commonwealth Investigation Branch are seconded for special duty to this section which has its own Executive Officer. Copy of the security plan approved for the project, together with a recent report on its implementation, is separate. It is understood that at the present time some 20 operatives are employed full time on security duties in this organization. It has representatives at the various installations both governmental and commercial, concerned with various aspects of the project. A general measure of co-ordination with Defence is achieved by virtue of the fact that the Service Directors of Intelligence are members both of the Long Range Security Committee and the Joint Intelligence Committee, part of the Higher Defence Machinery under the Defence Department.
(d) Security checking of Officials In June, 1948, the Defence Department recommended the security checking of all officers, Service or civilian, who handle classified Defence information, and, as opportunity offers, all members of the Services and all civilian officers of Service and associated Departments.
On 23rd December, 1948, the Prime Minister directed the Ministerial Heads of all Departments concerned in any way with the security of Defence information (i.e. the Commonwealth Treasurer, the Ministers for External Affairs, Supply and Development, Defence, Navy, Army and Air, the Minister-in-Charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) that action is to be taken ‘to have all officers, Service or civilian, who handle Defence information and documents of secret and top secret information, security checked by the Commonwealth Investigation Service of the Attorney-General’s Department. As opportunity offers, all members of the Services and all civilian officers of the Service and associated Departments should be checked’. Action is now proceeding.
Where persons of doubtful loyalty are discovered as a result of this check, they will be transferred to other work within the Department concerned where access to classified information is not possible, or, if necessary, they will be transferred to other Departments where there will be no security risk involved.
(e) Recommendations of Inter-Departmental Committee of 5th August, 1948 On this date a conference was held between the Defence Committee and senior officials representing Departments concerned with the security of Defence information. The following recommendations were made and were transmitted to the Ministers concerned by the Minister for Defence:-
(i) The security checking by the Commonwealth Investigation Service of all officers, Service or civilian, who handle Defence information or documents of secret or higher classification.
(ii) Each Department concerned to give consideration to its internal security measures for the security of information and important documents relating to Defence.
(iii) Consideration should be given to the security of buildings in which documents containing Defence information of secret and higher classification are kept.
(iv) Consideration should be given to the appointment of a full-time or part-time Security Officer, as the case may require, to ensure co-ordination and policing of security measures within Departments and to effect the necessary liaison of the Commonwealth Investigation Service.
Recommendation (i) is the subject of sub-paragraph (d) above. All Ministers concerned have agreed to accept and implement the remaining recommendations.
(f) Security Legislation Since 1923, successive Governments have had before them the question of improved legislation relating to security. The existing legislation (see paragraph 9) is based on the British Official Secrets Act of 1911. This Act was brought up to date and considerably strengthened in the United Kingdom by the Official Secrets Act 1920, the adoption of which was desired in Australia. Though on several occasions legislation has been drafted and introduced into the Commonwealth Parliament, political difficulties have so far prevented the passage of legislation. With the lessons of the recent war in mind, a Defence Security Act has been drafted and submitted by this Department to the Council of Defence for approval.
The Bill is at present under consideration by a Cabinet Committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Minister for Defence, and the Attorney-General.
(g) Security Instructions A comprehensive instruction for use throughout Commonwealth Government Departments entitled ‘Security of Official Documents and Information’ was drafted by the Joint Intelligence Committee, and after examination and approval of an inter-departmental Committee, has been promulgated as an Instruction by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has added a foreword to the booklet drawing attention to the importance of the subject matter. This Instruction deals with the classification of official documents, custody, circulation and transmission of classified documents, and miscellaneous matters concerned with departmental security of documents and information (copy attached as Appendix ‘E’).
(h) Security of Victoria Barracks Victoria Barracks, Melbourne, houses the Departments of Defence, Navy, Army and Air, and the Defence Division of the Treasury. The Headquarters of the three Services are also located in the area. On the recommendation of the Defence Committee, comprehensive measures have been approved by the Minister for the physical security of the Barracks Area, including re-introduction of a system of passes and supervision of visitors. Action is now being taken to implement these measures.
(i) Internal Security Measures, Department of Defence Consequent upon the recommendations referred to in sub-paragraph (e) above, an officer of the rank of Lieutenant-Commander has been seconded by the Navy to the Department of Defence to act as Security Officer. His duties will include executive action in implementing the approved scheme for the security of Victoria Barracks Area (see sub-paragraph (h) above), and to make recommendations as to, and to co-ordinate and supervise security measures within the Department.
Consequent upon an external examination made early in 1948 as to the system for the control and custody of classified documents within the Department of Defence, a ‘Central Distribution Section’ has been set up in the Department, the purpose of which is to provide the maximum security for special documents including classified documents of overseas origin, by the central control of their receipt, circulation and custody.[4]
[1] The document is undated.
[2] The omitted material comprises a review of steps taken since 1938.
[3] By Government decision one line has been expunged here.
[4] The brief was supplemented by three progress reports which Shedden sent to Gray on, respectively, 30 June (see Document 374), 20 July and 6 September 1949.
[AA : A5954, 1677/2]